Dulwich Monthly Reading

Why did I initiate the monthly book recommendation?

When I think back to my own school days, we didn’t have a school library, I was never introduced to a proper book and my teacher never taught me to appreciate books. Chinese lessons were all about the summary of the main idea and theme of an article in textbooks. At that time, I believed reading was all about the summary of a main idea and theme. I did not understand why Francis Bacon says “Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.”


What’s more, as I was not taught properly how to effectively summarize an article, I did not do well on this. As a result, I had seriously doubted my reading ability and was scared of writing. This cycle of disbelief in my own abilities had a negative impact on myself-esteem and English language learning.

Studying for a degree in the UK taught me excellent research skills. Working as a Librarian at international schools gave me access to the best literature and gave me the opportunity to teach reading lessons. With the help of the head of lower primary, together with my research skills, I was able to develop a series of library lessons designed specifically for the needs of lower primary students. From that moment I realized reading is not ONLY about summary of main idea and theme of an article and began to understand how to analyze and appreciate a book in its entirety. My English language skills, self-confidence and self-esteem improved as a direct result of this realization.


Students at Dulwich International High School Suzhou may be facing similar problems as me at school which detract from their enjoyment of reading. This is why two library bookworms - Mr. Gibson and I decided to start a monthly book recommendation. I will also introduce regular reading tips. We hope the book recommendation can help them to begin the journey of a lifelong reader.


How to choose a book?

Reading strategy tip number 1:

1. How to choose a fiction book that is suitable for me to read?

The answer starts with a question – do I just want to browse a book to relax or read a book to learn something new?

If you would like to browse a book to relax, then pick up whatever book you are interested in and browse it.

If you want to learn something new from a book, then there are a further two questions to ask: Firstly, does the content of the story grab your attention? Secondly, does the vocabulary level of the book fit your reading ability?

There are 2 steps to answering these questions:

Step 1: Look at a book cover and blurb on the back cover to see if it is a story you might be interested in.

Step 2: Read a few lines on pages at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the book. If there are three words in each line you do not understand, then put the book aside and tell yourself that the book is not suitable for you to read YET.

* The word YET is strongly emphasized as it gives you a positive hint that while you may not be able to read the book now, you will be able to in the future when your reading ability improves. The word also encourage you to keep on trying and never give up.